I'm here again to remember you. It's hard to believe it's been 5 years since your short life ended in Iraq. You would be 25 years old now if you were still here with us. A lot has happened in 5 years. One thing that hasn't changed is your friends are still in Iraq. We're trying hard to bring everyone home but in 5 years nothing really has changed.
One thing that did happen the past year was your father voting for the President of the US for the first time in his life. I can't tell you how proud he was placing his vote, thinking of you while he did it.
I haven't been able to talk to your parents in a few months. We've both found ourselves in hard economic times and it seams like we spend all of our time chasing the all mighty dollar just to keep a roof over our heads. Melida did give me some great advice on some people who could help us and I'm so thankful to her because when I thought all was lost her contact came through for us. Things are going to be OK now that we have a President who cares about us a little bit more than the last one.
The Christmas holidays were a little easier on your parents this year. It was the first time since you left them they felt like celebrating a little. But it's still hard for them not having your presence around them. The years have passed but you are missed so much by your family. You knew this though from the first letter you wrote home. You were worried about your family. I think your family was a big factor in the decisions you made in life. You love them so much!
Mom & Dad,
Today is Sunday, January 19, 2003. I've been out at sea for three days now and I'm starting to feel better. The first two days I was completely sick from seasickness and some virus. So far everyday I come outside the skin of the ship and write letters, whale watch, (which isn't that great cause I haven't seen any but there are plenty of dolphins that swim along side the ship), watch the horizon and sunset, etc. This seams so unreal to me. I've never seen water this BLUE before, I've never looked 360 degrees around me and seen nothing but water, clouds, the sun and a Fleet of Battleships surrounding me. Tomorrow is one of my many , many training days on ship to prepare me for my mission. I will also be training a short time in Kuwait. This is hard for me to comprehend. It seems like my whole life changed in an instant. Yesterday I was in a classroom learning about trigonometry and history. I graduated, went to boot camp, went to school, graduated as a GRUNT. I was sent across the country to train. Now I'm being sent across the world to fight. Today I am in a classroom learning about Tactical Urban Combat and Nuclear, Biological and chemical warfare. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on my way to experience 1st hand what I am learning about. I am not afraid of dying. I am more afraid of what will happen to all the ones that I love if something happens to me. Soon enough I will be in the desert, outside in the city of Bagdad, in full combat gear, ready to carry out my mission. Wondering how this all happened so fast, Wishing I was back home going to school, dating Shelia, taking care of my family. Although I think this way now I am almost certain that if I didn't walk this path I would be wondering to myself "why didn't I make the other decision. Why didn't I walk the path of a proud warrior, a marine." Just because I wonder "what if" doesn't mean I'm not proud, it doesn't mean I feel like I made the wrong decision. It doesn't mean I have any regrets. I'm still proud to be fighting for mycountry. I feel like, If I'm not helping one way I should still do all that I can to help (OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM). I'm on a time back now. I need to send this letter in the next hour for it to get to you by Tuesday or Wednesday. I love you both very much and I wish I could keep writing but I got to go. LOVE YOU. PFC ARREDONDO/ UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
A note to Brian his brother:
WHATS UP BRIAN, I feel so lucky to be blessed with the chance to defend my country 6 months after I joined the military. Some Marines have been in for over 20 years and still haven't seen combat. I'm also lucky to have such a wonderful family. I know how much you love me and support me and that keeps me going along with a few other things. Is Jeanette babysitting for Mom? LOVE YOU BROTHER Your Big Brother - Private First Class Arredondo USMC
Not having you around has been hard on your friends too. So many of them have left you messages. They remember your smile, your laughter and how wonderful you were to be around. You helped so many people without even know it. You still live with so many of us today. This day will not pass without you being in many of our thoughts, our prayers.
I think today is the hardest for your dad because today is his birthday too. It's hard to celebrate without you knowing this is the day you left them. I think his choice is to celebrate knowing what a precious gift life is. So I will say it for you, Happy Birthday Dad, because you don't have the breath to.
I know you know this and I don't have to say it. You're with me often. I think of you all the time, your laugh, your smile. You were a good kid Alex. Full of life and love for others.. You have given me so much. Thank you for being who you were. Teaching us lessons even today.
You are special!
You are missed!
With much love,
The Alexander Arredondo Memorial Scholarship Fund
Blue Hills Regional Technical School
Joseph A. Ciccolo, Superintendent-Director
Please send donations to:
Blue Hills Regional Technical School
800 Randolph Street
Canton, MA 02021
Attn: Arredondo Scholarship Fund
Telephone (781) 828-5800
UPDATED: Friday 08/28/09 From Melida on the passing of Ted Kennedy
Carlos had put in his application in 2002. On 10/15/2006, Carlos spoke to the Senator re: the delays in his citizenship. A law had been passed in 2004 that family members of those killed in combat were to be prioritized in getting citizenship. On 12/12/2006, Carlos became a citizen.That is only one of our Kennedy stories. We both met him several times.Thank you- You've passed the torch, and we humbly accept. M